PHOENIX — People in the Pacific Northwest are paying close attention to what happens to the Phoenix Coyotes.
Hockey fans in Seattle would love to lure the Coyotes to their city. But there’s one problem.
“There’s no building (for them to play in),” said reporter Josh Kerns of KIRO-AM radio in Seattle.
Kerns said that could change. A group led by hedge-fund manager Chris Hanson wants to build an arena as part of an effort to bring an NBA team back to the city.
“As part of the original deal to get some public financing and a public loan for the arena, Hanson has promised to build it to NHL specifications,” said Kerns. “He would like to partner with somebody to bring the NHL to town.”
But Kerns believes it could be several years before that arena opens. He said if the NHL moves the Coyotes to Seattle now, they would have to play in an arena that does not meet league standards.
“They could play in Key Arena with a smaller capacity if the NHL were willing to make an exemption there,” said Kerns. “It’s where the Seattle SuperSonics basketball team used to play (before moving to Oklahoma City). After it was renovated several years ago, it can only hold between 10,000 and 11,000 fans for hockey.
“The other possibility is the Tacoma Dome, a larger facility that has hosted minor-league hockey in past years.”
Kerns said that the dome would need to be renovated.
Still, Kerns believes there is only a slight chance that the Coyotes will move to Seattle.
“I would say, realistically, given the timing here, unless an investor were to step in right away and say that ‘Yes, I am willing to pay this money for a facility’, that the chances are less likely of a move to Seattle. Although, there are people here who are very hopeful.”